I attended the Juneau Board of Fisheries meeting on Nov. 6 at Centennial Hall to learn more about the potential listing of Lynn Canal herring under the Endangered Species Act.
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The Sierra Club submitted a petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service to list Lynn Canal herring under the act. For Lynn Canal herring to be listed under the act, the herring must be classified as a distinct population segment.
I believe the question should not be whether Lynn Canal herring are a distinct population segment but whether Berners Bay herring are a distinct population. Herring spawn in the same location every year. Herring currently spawn in Taku Harbor, Oilver Inlet, Berners Bay, Seymour Canal, Sitka Sound and discrete locations throughout Southeast Alaska.
Each herring population is unique to the estuary in which they spawn. The herring that spawn in Berners Bay are unique to that bay. Once herring are displaced from there biological spawning grounds, they do not return and are not replaced by herring from other locations. This is evidenced by the loss of historic spawning populations in Auke Bay, Hobart Bay, Kah Shakes (near Ketchikan) and other distinct herring populations that have been lost throughout Southeast Alaska. The Berners Bay herring population may be the only spawning population remaining in Lynn Canal.
I believe that the case should be made to list the Berners Bay herring population as a distinct population segment, instead of including all of Lynn Canal. Similarly, the case could be made that each spawning population is a distinct population segment.
It seems logical to me that people who make their living or obtain their food from the ocean, like me, would want to protect this resource. I encourage the fishermen and other people who make their living from the oceans of Southeast Alaska to learn more about the Endangered Species Act and support this petition. Our future and the herrings' are not guaranteed; they have to be protected and conserved.
Scott J. Sloane